It is cruel and politically incorrect to call anyone stupid, most especially in public. But when someone is using stupidity to try to deceive people and separate them from their money and common sense, it is almost an obligation to call them out.
An organization called “Guns and God” is advocating for a national day of appreciation for the link between religious faith and gun ownership, called, inaccurately, the unalienable right to bear arms. This direct quotation from their petition provides the rationale: “The Guns and God coalition believes that society’s noticeable lack of faith in God is to blame for the rise of violent crimes, not firearms. The coalition would like to point out that gun ownership has declined in the last 20 years, despite the influx of gun violence. Accompanying the drop in firearms ownership is a noticeable decline in religious participation.”
In his book Spurious Correlations, author Tyler Vigen presents graphic evidence (that is, he graphs the evidence) of the similar patterns of completely unrelated phenomena. For example, the number of people who drown after falling out of a fishing boat follows the same pattern as the marriage rate in Kentucky. Or, per capita cheese consumption is virtually identical to the number of people who die after becoming tangled in their bedsheets. Or, the total revenue generated by arcades correlates with the number of computer science doctorates awarded in the United States.
Correlation, I hope I don’t have to tell you, is not the same as causation. When two patterns correlate, they follow a similar trajectory, even if they do not influence each other. When one pattern is caused by the other, it is because the first pattern consistently influences the second. So, for example, if respiratory disease and lung cancer increase as tobacco consumption increases, there is reason to investigate a causal link. If parking on Capitol Hill is more available when the House and Senate are in recess, there is reason to believe that the cause is a reduction in the number of people looking to park on Capitol Hill.
On the other hand, regardless of the number of fans who wear their baseball caps inside-out and backwards in the ninth inning, any rally or lack thereof will always, always be the result of the athletic skills and strategy of the players. If, God forbid, your mother breaks her back or her spine, it has nothing to do with any crack or line on which you may have stepped, intentionally or accidentally.
To believe otherwise is nonsense.
So here we have the “Guns and God” PAC declaring that it believes – without evidence – that “society’s noticeable lack of faith in God is to blame for the rise of violent crimes.” By citing a general trend of a decline in gun ownership and a decline in religious participation (undocumented), this PAC identifies the result as the “influx” (sic) of gun violence by the remaining gun owners.
I can’t even evaluate the correlation, let alone the causation, but I can say unequivocally that they are not the same thing. To think otherwise is to make the same mistake as confusing “belief” and “fact,” which is something else this PAC does.
As of this writing, of the millions of people in the United States who own guns and/or believe in God, just over two thousand have been hoodwinked into signing the petition to link guns and God on the public record. Just over two thousand people have fallen for a stupid argument.
Their public records of the PAC indicate the money they have collected and how much of it they have spent. The price of stupid appears to be $125,255.34. Of that amount, $96,983.30 has been expended. I hope those two thousand-plus folks get a better return on the last thirty grand.